WATCH: Mayor Chairs Discussion on Pandemic Mental Health

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Mental health experts in Windsor-Essex are encouraging people to reach out.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens chaired a discussion on Friday afternoon to talk about mental health and how people are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As  local residents brace for a challenging winter, Dilkens says it is fair and normal for residents to experience increased anxiety and a range of complex emotions associated with the pandemic's impact on our daily lives and relationships.

Janice Kaffer, the CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare was part of Friday's discussion and says the number of calls are down, which is concerning.

"I think it reflects the fact that people are a little bit nervous about calling in" she says. "They think their issue maybe isn't significant enough or maybe someone will judge them if they call and ask for help. And we're getting more and more calls from family members calling on behalf of someone else.")

Kaffer says there is never a judgement about why someone may be calling for help.

"The idea being just to call, either call the counselling line, call the crisis line, call CMHA [Canadian Mental Health Association] and I think that notion of reaching out and asking someone how can I get some support and some help."

Claudia den Boer, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Windsor Essex County Branch also spoke on Friday and says, if you're not comfortable making a phone call, there is also help available online.

"So many of the resources online have some self-assessment tools that you can use as a bit of a checklist and it will maybe give you a better sense of, maybe this is something were I need to reach out," she says.

In terms of ways to support each other during the pandemic, the panel encouraged people to check in on loved ones and friends, establish healthy patterns and focus on activities that bring you happiness, plan short and frequent phone calls or video chats with friends and family and seek out advice from experts if you are feeling symptoms of depression, anxiety or hopelessness.